The six Legion members and adherents materialized from the space warp on Earth-Two just outside of Salem, Massachusets. The Tower of Fate stood before them.
White Witch still looked haggard. It had been only a few hours since their grim episode in the Arctic.
Brainiac 5 asked her, quietly, "Do you sense anything from the tower, Mysa?"
She shook her head, her antennae whipping a bit. The dark circles under her eyes indicated what she had just been through, and she suspected that worse was yet to come. "I can't pick up an emanation. If the Fate Helmet were within, it'd be going off like a beacon."
"Maybe I should take a look," said Supergirl, and flew towards the doorless and windowless edifice.
"Kara, don't," said Dev. He was too late. The girl in the blue, red, and yellow costume contacted the stone of the tower wall and bounced off like a tennis ball. Kara flopped down on the grass surrounding it, landing on her red-clad kiester. She huffed.
"Magic," she said. "Even without the helmet, there's magic there. I can't get in."
Dream Girl said, "Can you, Mysa?"
Laurel Kent, helping White Witch with a supporting arm, said, "She'd better not. She's expended so much power already, and she's got to get us back, too."
Mysa took a deep breath and threw her head back. "I shall try." She walked to the tower's wall, and then flowed into it as if she were stepping through an illusion. Kara's mouth twitched.
A few seconds later, the sorceress reappeared. "He's gone," said Mysa. "No clues, but he doesn't need to cover his tracks anymore."
Kara looked at Brainiac 5. "How are we supposed to stop him now?" she said.
The green-fleshed youth looked more sullen than she had ever seen him before. "Let's go home," he said. "I'll think about it."
Mysa opened her space-warp again and they stepped through it into their own Earth.
On Winath, the Legionnaire cruiser with the second Legion team was in fixed orbit. The reason why they had not stormed the Planetary Defense Center was simple. On one of the holoscreens of their craft, a 3-D image of Tyr holding a gun to Colossal Boy's head was visible, with Krellik and Zoom threatening other bound Legionnaires.
"Land and we kill them, heroes," smiled Krellik. "The Coin of Loki lets me sense your approach. Zoom is able to act more quickly than even Mon-El could imagine. Tyr has enough firepower to wipe out all these underage idiots. Keep your distance...and they keep their heads."
Lightning Lad looked at Element Lad. "What's the plan?"
"Wait," said El Lad, grimly. "We sit and we wait."
And we pray that Kara's group has made a breakthrough, he thought.
The plan for Daxam's destruction was simplicity itself, given the Daxamites' weakness to lead. Expose a Daxamite to lead and he or she was dead, period. You could take them any distance away from the leaden object you wanted, catapult them into another universe, even, and they'd still die. That was how badly they reacted to the stuff.
Mon-El had nearly died of lead exposure in his first encounter with Superboy. The only way he was saved was by being projected into the Phantom Zone. He spent 1,000 years among ghost-like criminals before Brainiac 5 found a serum that would cure him. Green Kryptonite was its main active ingredient. Supplied with that, Mon-El had emerged from the Zone and become a pillar of the Legion. If he stopped taking it at regular intervals, he was a goner.
There was not enough Green Kryptonite in existence to proof all the inhabitants of Daxam from lead poisoning, should the whole planet be threatened by lead.
A very large asteroid existed, circling an alien sun, with a veritable sea of molten lead upon it. A millenium before, Superboy had borrowed some of it to cover the Kryptonite statues of his ancestors from his family crypt, which had been blown intact into outer space. He had only taken a little of the asteroid's store.
Ar-Ual looked upon the asteroid, from her position in deep space, and hesitated. She was more a thief than anything else. Murdering Superman after marrying him was one thing. But mass-murdering a planetful of people? That was an idea she wasn't exactly hot on--
A hot electrical pulse of absolute pain surged through her body. She screamed silently, throwing her head back, her tortured features made chiaroscuro by the distant sun of that system.
It was a fail-safe device Mordru had instilled in her when he imparted unto her the plan for Daxam's destruction. As it made her writhe, she knew its source and purpose.
Within minutes, the pain abated. Ar-Ual tried to gasp for breath, but there was no breath to be had. Sweat globuled off her body and spun into the darkness. For the first time, Ar-Ual had hard evidence of what it would be like for her to defy Mordru.
She didn't like it very much.
Gingerly, Ar-Ual twisted her body back into a more normal posture, and floated purposefully to the asteroid.
She laid hands upon it, saw its huge surface--miles and miles across--and the sea of lead, made molten in some way she knew not how, filling the huge depression from its surface to well within the halfway point of the asteroid's depth.
Ar-Ual nudged the asteroid, making sure to keep the molten sea within it, and laid a firmer grip on its outer edge with her powerful hands.
Even at super-speed, the warp she needed to reach would be a few days' journey. Then she could push this thing into Daxam's atmosphere, even if she had to fight off some battlecruisers on patrol around the planet, and her work would be done.
Unless Mordru had somebody else he wanted her to kill...
Grimly, Ar-Ual sped up with her burden.
Satan Girl sped through the blackness of space. She needed something to do.
True, probably within the span of a day she'd finally be battling--no, destroying!--her sister-self, and that thought was a turn-on to eclipse any of the disappointments she'd had recently. Well, that and the fact of what else Mordru had communicated to her, and what, by now, she knew herself to be true.
But she wasn't one to stand idle for a whole day and wait for Supergirl to be brought to her. No matter where she was, she and the blonde bitch would be brought together for conflict. The anticipation was torquing her up too much. She wanted something to loosen her up.
The purple-clad woman's eyes scanned the nearby sector of space and found just what she wanted: a comet.
Comets are mainly dirty balls of ice with gas trails streaming out behind them. But they pack incredible power in their mass, if they chance to hit something.
An incredible explosion had occurred on Earth in 1909, in a region of Siberia. No one had ever really proven what had done it, but the prevailing theories suggested that a comet head had impacted there. Satan Girl decided to try out the theory. Mordru didn't want her doing anything devastating to the Zeroxians, but he hadn't ruled out other worlds' inhabitants.
A suitable world was within reasonable distance. Satan Girl accelerated her flight velocity, passing lightspeed easily. She approached the comet, entered it from the tail area just behind the head, and laid hands easily on the icy surface, steering it in the proper direction, adding her great speed to it, and trusting that she could move it fast enough before the strains of acceleration broke the comet head apart.
The world Satan Girl had chosen was advanced to more or less the stage Earth had been in the 20th Century's second decade. Mechanical carriages had been perfected. Electricity had been harnessed. A form of instant communication was being established. Wars had been fought, but the people of that planet felt nonetheless that a grand new age of progress was upon them.
Satan Girl hurled the comet at the world's capital city.
The flash of its approach was too fast even for most astronomers on that planet to note it. But those at a far enough distance from it did see a light bright enough to register even in broad daylight. Few at ground zero had a chance to realize that their lives were about to end.
The impact dwarfed the greatest nuclear bombs, though that world was far away from developing them. Millions died. A crater many miles across was formed. The pile of dust and debris raised by the impact spread and caused an artificial winter over most of the continent. Crops died. Chaos reigned. The people of that world believed it a judgment of God, and, out of terror and a wish to be able to do something, declared other nations or peoples to have brought the judgment upon them, and made vicious war against them. Those nations responded in kind. Before long, the planet's surface was soaked in blood.
That would take some weeks to happen.
For her part, Satan Girl examined the planet's surface with her telescopic vision, critically. She did feel somewhat more at ease. Given the fact of her artificially accelerating the comet, and subtracting that from the total impact--well, it was probable that Siberia had been hit by a comet head in 1909.
It was nice to have the power to work these things out for oneself, she thought.
Black Adam sought the pragmatism in his soul as he ripped through the dimensional void. Killing billions of people was a crime beyond even his scope. Necessary murder, yes, but subjects should be ruled, not fed to the underworld en masse.
A brief stabbing pain up and down his spine reminded him of the price for disobedience. All right, then, do the task and worry about it later. After all, he was only an instrument. The mass murder would properly have to be laid at Mordru's feet, not his own.
Before him loomed the Rock of Eternity, the abode of the gods and of Shazam. He grinned thinly and considered paying the old wizard a call. But it probably would be for naught. If the wizard's shade still existed, he might yet have power to transform him into the merely human Teth-Adam. And there were possibly gods on hand to deal with. No, best do what had to be done and get on with it.
There. There it was.
The small white bird had sharpened its beak at the Rock of Eternity. It did this once every hundred thousand years. When the Rock was worn away by such sharpenings, it would be a sign that one day of Eternity had gone by. Or so the legends went. Whether a new Rock would appear directly thereafter, the legends did not say.
Black Adam soared directly for the white bird. It perceived him. Instead of trying to avoid him, it came towards him...and its talons seemed more huge than he would have imagined.
Admittedly, this would take some finesse. A small bit of the Eternity Rock jutted from the bird's mouth. Black Adam drew on his Mercury-like speed and used one hand to grasp the jutting edge of Rock. He silently swore and screamed as the bird's talons raked his arm...this was no mere Earth-bird!...but, seconds later, he fell away from it.
Within his hand was a small fragment of Eternity Rock, broken off from the larger bit in the bird's mouth. Barely enough to cover the tip of a thumb, but sufficient for what he had to do.
The bird was coming for him now, and Black Adam did not want to contemplate what it could do to him. He was powerful, but there were power levels far beyond his own...perhaps even beyond Mordru's. But he knew his way around these parts.
The Rock of Eternity was a junction to all times and places for those who knew how to use it. He flew back towards it, angled off at just the precise trajectory, and found himself in yet another place...though he could not have said if another time existed in this new locale.
Most of it was black void, except for what he perceived as the Cosmic Axis.
This he perceived as a great, shimmering shaft of white, turning majestically upon an unseen base. It was said to be the mainspring of the Multiverse, keeping dimensional barriers whole, shifting phaseworlds through different realms.
Rokyn had been such a phaseworld, until several hundred years before the Legion's time. The star-sun of Dakkam, the world with which it traded places, had gone nova. The scientists of Rokyn had analyzed the sputtering star when they were within its space, learned of its impending explosion, and devised a means of keeping their world out of phase with Dakkam's universe. That was wise, as the star went nova within a hundred years of their doing so.
Black Adam, matching his speed to that of the turning Axis, placed the small bit of the Eternity Rock in just the place that Mordru had instructed him to put it. Then he flew out of range of the Axis's mighty sweep.
The wobble of the Axis would have been imperceptible to a mortal, but Black Adam could detect it.
Rokyn would begin going out of phase with the Earth-One universe within hours. It would spend some time in sub-space.
Then it would phase into the hot plasma fury of Dakkam's expanded nova star.
An instant after that, there would be no more Rokyn.
Black Adam retraced his flight back to the Eternity Rock, and thence back to the space of Zerox.
He returned to the apartment Mordru had created for him, and spent many minutes alone in meditation.
Mon-El got tired of waiting. "We've got too many hostages in there, Imra," he snapped, facing her in the control center of the Legion cruiser. "They may be tough, but I've got to chance it."
"You will not," said Saturn Girl, emphatically. "One of those three is almost Krypton-class, and his power source is magic. You're vulnerable to that. Another has the speed of the ancient Flash. That puts his top achievable velocity above yours. You might be able to take out Tyr, if you got to him first. But who do you think the other two are protecting? And who do you think has that gun-hand of his trained on our fellow Legionnaires?"
Mon-El swept his arm back angrily, and the air-rush almost blew Cosmic Boy and Sun Boy over. "I know all of that, Imra. But if I could break in there, grab some of our people, and get back out, don't you think it'd be worth it?"
Magnetic Kid, Cosmic Boy's kid brother, was nerved. The Legionnaires, those avatars that his big brother had been great enough not only to be among, but to found, were always his idols, the overbeings he thought he would never be able to equal. To be chosen as one of their newest members, well, that was an unbelievable trip. But to see Mon-El, their mightiest member, starting to lose it, and Saturn Girl arguing with him...it was like knowing his homeworld of Braal had broken out of orbit and was spinning madly into its sun.
Lightning Lad spoke up, standing just behind Saturn Girl. "Mon, you're just letting off pressure, and we both know it. There's no way you could outspeed that Zoom guy, or face up to Krellik's magic. So cool it down--"
"Those are Legionnaires in there!" yelled Mon.
"And there are other Legionnaires in here," said Cosmic Boy, loudly. "And so far, none of them in either place has been killed yet. Want to change that? Then go down there, Mon, and find out."
The red-and-blue-clad hero glowered, but said nothing.
Lightning Lad continued, "Here's the scoop. They haven't killed any Legionnaires yet because they know if they do, we're going to jump in like a thunderbolt in heat. So long as we stay here, we guarantee that Jo, Vi, Tellus, Gim, and all the rest will stay healthy. Well, it's not a guarantee, but it's very likely. So they can't do anything, either."
Lightning Lass said, "Flaw in that reasoning, Garth: you're assuming that Tyr and company are as rational as we are. Also that we can afford to stay here that long...also that they won't kill one of the Legionnaires to make their point."
Blok offered, "We could teleport some of our squad to another section of the planet, and try a lateral attack while they're watching this ship."
Element Lad spoke, for the first time in the exchange. "Nice try, Blok, but I doubt it. The Defense Center of Winath is hooked into satellite cams that cover the whole planet. They probably could detect us when we touched down. Also, Krellik seems to have some way of sensing attacks before they come. At least, that's what Tellus sent to us before they conked him. We need something else. We need a wild card."
Blok, Cosmic Boy, Magnetic Kid, Lightning Lad, Lightning Lass, Saturn Girl, Mon-El, and Sun Boy all looked at their leader.
Then Magnetic Kid, at the communications helm, noticed something on one of his screens.
"Incoming message," he said. "Code identifier: it's Cham."
Chameleon Boy had changed his fly-form into a 180-pound fist, and used it to wallop three guards unconscious at a subspace wave-send station. He figured that a deadman alarm had been set, and he had, at tops, three minutes to make his transmission.
The five-foot-ten orange fist reshaped itself into a Durlan adolescent within three seconds. Cham touched various controls on the machine, and opened a frequency that would be picked up in both Legion cruisers and the LSH headquarters building as well.
"It's Reep, people. Verify 26/B47. The big guy is off-planet. He was wearing some kind of power helmet. I eavesdropped as a sofa pillow. Ar-Ual sat on me. Listen: he gave instructions to the Big Three by telepathy. Couldn't catch it. They've gone three separate directions now, all off-planet. But from the big smile I saw on S-Girl's face, I'm betting she's been sent to get her hooks in Kara. The other two didn't say where they were going. That's all I've got. Pick me up whenever you get a chance...I'm gone."
Four armed guards burst into the room, smashing through the blocked door with a force-ram. They let loose with four bullet-sized heat-seeking missles on Cham, who had just turned in their direction.
One thing that Durlans can do to protect themselves is, for a brief time, separate their molecular structure enough to effectively become phantoms. Cham did this.
The tiny missles blasted the communications equipment into scrap. Cham backed through the wall.
"Get him!" yelled the squad leader. The foursome ran out of the room and tore into the hall behind the wall Cham had phased through.
They saw nothing but a serving wench. Since they didn't know Cham was a shape-changer, they didn't suspect her. For once, they would have been right.
The four guards searched the entire building and its environs, but turned up nobody they could remotely peg as a Durlan.
None of them paid much attention to a scavenger-bird that had perched on the corner of the building roof. The bird craned its head this way and that, apparently in search of carrion, until the guards gave it up and went back inside.
Chameleon Boy spread his wings, took flight, and estimated that he'd fairly survived another squeaker.
The eight captive Legionnaires were kept in stasis fields that were, to say the least, somewhat cramped. Most bodily functions were slowed down considerably, which meant that the usual needs of ingestion and excretion could be put off until the fields were dropped.
The fields with the Legionnaires were placed against one wall of the Defense Center chamber that housed Krellik, some very cowed technicians, a sleeping Tyr (whose gun hand was linked to the stasis fields), and a lot of equipment. Professor Zoom was a constant and seldom-seen presence, moving at near-lightspeed. Krellik paced the floor and watched the communications screens, upon several of which the Legion's ship could easily be seen. His magically-enhanced instincts told him nothing was being tried by the brat heroes just then.
For an instant, he was drawn to Colossal Boy. The youth, shrunk back to his normal height, appeared to be sleeping. Krellik wondered why his attention had been sparked by the big kid in the red and blue outfit. Hell, he didn't even know him.
But Krellik could swear that he'd had a ping of alarm when he'd walked by the overgrown Teen Titan. So he spent a few more minutes in front of Gim Allon, and, when nothing more occurred, moved on.
The yellow-and-purple one...cripes, what had those kids been thinking when they let this frog-face mix with them? If that was a teenager, he'd have hated to see it when it was a larva.
And Gim Allon had a brief, but very vivid, dream.
This is what he dreamed:
The three figures hung on the instruments of their deaths. Two had required the breaking of their legs to stop their breaths and heartbeat. The third was being removed from the object of torture and murder (no, not execution...murder). The people who removed the man took him (Him?) away, out of the sight of the dream.
(What am I doing with this dream? I mean, sure, I know about this stuff...but hey, I'm Reform...not one of the, uh, you know, the competition...)
The attention of the dreamer, like a camera obeying a director's instructions, is drawn to one of the soldiers near the three figures. No, to the thing which the soldier, half-drunk and belching, holds in his hand. A spear. A spear with red all over it's head and upper shaft. Red stuff that spattered the drunken soldier. Red stuff that came out of the third man.
(I really don't want this dream. I really don't want this dream...)
The spear passes into other hands, flashing by so quickly he cannot register more than a few. A Roman emperor (Constantine?). A Hun invader (Attila?). A British king (Arthur??). A German (oh, hey, now, I know him...). A Chinese. A secret group. Bringing power, but power that finally ends. Being passed on...century after century...
(The Lord our God, the Lord is one...)
Finally. The spear...in Israel. In Jerusalem. Buried. The last man to possess it has his throat slit without betraying its location. That is where it is. That is where it is today.
(Why am I having this dream?)
A very large blue man with yellow jewelry and a thing of whose shape he isn't quite sure stand above the ground where the spear is buried. They are looking straight at him...at his dreamscape viewpoint.
The blue man speaks. It is the first and only sound he has perceived in the dream so far.
"You must remember."
<Gim. Gim, this is Tellus. Are you conscious?>
"YOU MUST REMEMBER."
Dream drops away. Wakefulness in the status field. Heartbeat slowed down to a near-halt, but, relatively, it's about to thrum its way out of his chest.
Gim was awake.
God, he thought. Then he caught himself.
I hope, he thought.
Supergirl, Dev, Mysa, Nura, Dawny, Brainy, and Laurel clustered around the Legion meeting table. Only a few minutes ago, they had received the message from Chameleon Boy. Then they had comlinked with the Legion ship over Winath, and consulted with Element Lad. Now they were on their own.
And each of them, though they did not admit it yet, believed their group was set apart from the others for a reason. That somehow, in some way, they all might hold the key to the defeat of Mordru...though how that might be accomplished, not even Brainiac 5 could tell yet.
Kara raked a hand through her golden strands. "Brainy, Dev, everyone, hear me out on this one. I think I've got a handle on a plan."
The other six turned towards her.
"This whole thing seems to lean back to the 20th Century," Kara continued. "He's taken villains from my time, even though they're not all from our Earth, and turned them into his soldiers. He's using artifacts that haven't been in use, probably, for 1,000 years. Why? I don't know. But it says to me that we don't need to be in the 30th Century, we need to be back in the 20th."
Brainiac leaned forward, excitedly. "You may have something there, Kara. And the 20th is a great source for allies...there was one of the largest influxes of superhumans ever, in your era. We can get soldiers, too."
"If we can get ‘em to work with us," pointed out Dev. "But you're right, Brainy. And I've got an idea along those lines."
"What about my dream?" said Dream Girl. "It seemed bent backward...that backward-leaning could be a leaning-back in time, you know."
White Witch rubbed her hands over her face, her tiredness abating somewhat. "It could be. It's worth the trouble. Brainy, can we all fit into a Time-Cube?"
The green-skinned youth smiled. "The interior is a tesseract. It's as large as we want it to be."
Laurel's face suddenly erupted with excitement. "The 20th. Like, I mean...I've got to go there! We could meet, you know, him...you know, Number One, Kara's cousin! I mean, I've met him as a kid, but he must've been some kinda incredible hunk..."
Dawnstar snickered. "Glad you're keeping perspective on this one, Laurel. Brainy, should we consider this a unanimous decision."
Brainiac said, "One thing first. Mysa, we both know the history of the 20th's magic-based heroes. Who would be the one you'd choose to help on this one?"
"Doctor Fate," she said. "But he's on another Earth. And I don't think he could manifest here, if someone else controls the Fate Helmet."
"The Spectre?" asked Brainy.
The White Witch's eyes widened. "No. There's no guarantee we could access him...and if some of the legends are true, he could be an avatar of Order or a bloody-hand, depending on when and where we get him. I'm scared of him."
Everybody's scared of him, dear, thought Kara.
"We'll think about it when we get there," said Dev. "Fire up the Cube, and let's go."
They repaired to another sector of the headquarters building. Several time-travel devices, including some old-style Time Bubbles, were there. The Time Cube, a large, yellow-metalled, cubical structure, dominated the chamber. It had been created by Rond Vidar, Universo's son and a reserve Legionnaire, and was the most reliable and accurate vehicle for chronal travel they had.
Dawnstar insisted on being allowed to calibrate the controls. She set them for the late 20th, minutes after Kara's departure, so that no time-paradoxes would cloud her presence. Then she threw the final switch, and hurried through the door of the machine. It automatically shut behind her, and the seven heroes within sat and waited.
After some minutes had passed within the cube, Brainiac checked the chronal metering equipment. He swore.
"We haven't moved," he said. "We haven't gone anywhere. Don't tell me Mordru's recruited the Time-Trapper, too."
Dev said, "Many a true word's said in jest, Dox," and threw open the door.
A blast of magic energy dropped him in his tracks.
Drang the Destroyer stood just outside the door of the Time Cube, smiling. He entered the chamber and reached his hands out to Supergirl. White Witch loosed a bolt of magic from her hands at him, but he had been proofed against such by Mordru and it glanced harmlessly off him.
Supergirl set her jaw and stood facing Drang with her hands on her hips. "So it's just me you want, Drang? Okay, let's both go outside and settle accounts. That is, if you're not afraid to go solid."
Drang laughed, briefly. "Regrettably, Supergirl, I am not the one to fight you today. But the master has given me one boon. He will allow me to watch your death."
She did not shrink back as Drang touched her.
Yelling curses in Kryptonian, Laurel hurled herself fist-first at Drang. Dawnstar, eager to show Kara that she was a sister-in-arms, attacked from a different side. They found Drang as material as smoke, and banged against each other in his midst.
"Get your hands off her," yelled Brainiac, trying to grab Supergirl. White Witch was blasting away at Drang, with no effect. Even Dream Girl tried to swing a high-heeled shoe at the villain, and only succeeded in whacking Brainy on the shoulder.
"Back off," said Kara to her friends. "This is my fight. And I know who I'm going to be fighting. You continue the mission, as soon as you can." Then she turned back to Drang. "Okay, orange and ugly...take me." She held out her arms.
Drang touched her, and the two of them faded from view.
As soon as he phased out, the Time Cube resumed operation, and, closing its door automatically, disappeared into another century.
Dev-Em shook off the effects of the magic blast just in time to see its exit.
"You bloody, orange-skinned scum," he snarled to the open air. "Well, you're not the only one who can go on a soldier safari. And I never needed a cube to get me where I wanted to go."
Dev began to whirl in mid-air, whooshing papers and objects not tied down into his whirlwind wake. Within instants, he had achieved the proper velocity, and vanished from the moment he had occupied nanomoments before.
He had a few places to go.
He just hoped he remembered when each one of them was alive...